Krishna Cottage (2004)

Rating: C

Dir: Santram Varma
Star: Sohail Khan, Natasha, Ishaa Koppikar, Brijesh Hirjee

Our first venture into Bolly-horror proves slightly less successful than into the action genre, though if you’re looking for a competent knock-off of The Ring, this will do. Here, the prop is a book that kills anyone who reads the final chapter. This ties into a group of college students, including Sohail (Khan), who feels a strange attraction to attractive new arrival (Koppikar) – which irritates his fiancee (Natasha) no end, for obvious reasons. As in The Ring, the key lies in the past, and Sohail has to try and solve the puzzle before the supernatural curse takes out everyone he knows.

At 130 mins, it’s relatively brief for Bollywood yet, especially early on, feels the unfortunate need to lob in lame humour that’s either culturally impenetrable or – my guess – just not funny. Fortunately, when Varma concentrates on horror, things improve: he has good technical skills and the film looks very slick, though overuses loud musical stings by a factor of about twenty. It’s interesting how easily the characters accept an occult explanation, and Rati Agnihotri impresses as an admirably straight-faced astrologer/medium. Then, in the final reel, it diverts in another direction, almost into Chinese Ghost Story territory. Much like the rest of the film, not sure this entirely works, and while little is genuinely original here, the setting is probably novel enough to stave off boredom.